Progressive Adds Coverage for DIY Camper Van Conversions – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

Progressive Insurance announced that its continued commitment to addressing the evolving needs of auto and RV consumers led to the decision to add DIY camper van conversion coverage to its insurance policies. Historically, DIY vans have been considered an unacceptable risk in its insurance program — RVers could insure professionally converted camper vans but not the DIY ones – until now.

RVBusiness spoke with Matt Jacobs, Progressive’s RV product manager, who explained that Progressive recognized the growing segment in the DIY space, especially with camper vans, and opened up nationwide insurance coverage as of November last year. (Note: Hawaii and Washington, D.C. are not covered by Progressive.)

“We’re seeing a trend of people buying a Sprinter van, for instance, and making changes like adding technology and their own style and fit,” said Jacobs. “The younger generation is really jumping onboard with these DIY camper vans, with the typically lower price point, and it’s not a huge transition from a truck or SUV. It’s a great way to take a first step into the RV industry, and these folks can decide ‘Is this for me?’”

Jacobs also talked about the demographic shift in the RV industry in general. “When many people think RVers, they think Baby Boomers and retirees. But the shift started before the pandemic, and then when the pandemic hit, it shot the growth sky-high.”

He saw this shift not only in the RV industry, but in the boat and off-road-vehicle markets as well. This group encompasses millennials (born in the 1980s and 1990s), Gen Zers (born late 1990s and early 2000s) and even Generation Xers (born in the 1960s and 1970s). According to Jacobs, “People who had that disposable income and were thinking about buying an RV, or a boat, were now thinking, ‘This is the time to do it.’”

Progressive has been watching if the people who jumped onboard during this trend would stay in the RV industry, and “we’re finding that they’re fully staying in it. They may not be using their RVs as much as they were in the past but they’re still using them.”

Jacobs feels that the RV industry is very healthy: “I’ve been so impressed with how the RV industry has been able to build and follow the younger demographics, and that the RV manufacturers have been doing a great job responding with lower price points and also with RVs for tech-savvy customers. It’s exciting how the industry has reacted to the different customers.”

The boondocking segment is also booming, he said, and “we’re seeing enthusiasts taking these vans to places you can’t take a standard on-road RV. We’re seeing more expedition RVs that can take you anywhere you want to go, and also electric vehicles coming about now.”

Along those lines, how does insurance coverage work for these RVers who venture off the beaten path? “At this point, there’s no differentiation,” he said. “But in the future things could change since a lot of Progressive’s smaller coverages, like roadside assistance or emergency expenses, are built around that on-road experience. So this could be an opportunity to look at other coverages and say, ‘Does that make sense for someone who is going off-road and leaving the highway? And how does that look when you consider a potential towing aspect or how do we get to them if they’re out in a remote area?’”

When it comes to nationwide coverage, some people may be confused about their insurance coverage in Canada and Mexico. Jacobs replied, “Canada and Mexico coverage is already included in coverage, though they are treated a bit differently. Canada is treated very much like the States. Mexico is a bit different: As long as you have physical damage through Progressive, you get Mexico physical damage as well. However, customers need to be aware that they need to purchase liability insurance through a Mexican insurance carrier. The other caveat is that if there is a comp and collision claim, it needs to be handled back in the States.”

Another point Jacobs made is that many people do not insure their travel trailers, especially if there’s not a lienholder, but they may not realize that the trailer isn’t always covered.

Said Jacobs, “For instance, if the trailer is parked on your property, it’s usually covered through your home insurance. If it’s being towed with your tow vehicle, it would be covered from a liability standpoint. However, if it’s not on your property and not being towed by your vehicle, there can be this gap where your trailer is not covered. And you’ll find that it’s not that expensive to insure.”

Along those lines, these gaps in insurance are another focus for Progressive.

“We’ve expanded our vacation liability,” said Jacobs. “Previously, vacation liability protected a customer’s RV while you are using it as a temporary residence at a campground or a national park. We’ve found that a lot of times folks will leave their RV in a campground during the week and go back home and then come back on the weekends. During that time you’re not there, there’s no liability coverage for that RV. We decided this is a great opportunity to expand coverage, so now with Progressive’s vacation liability policy, a customer can now fully protect the RV with liability insurance even if you’re not there using the RV. We’ve been working on opportunities where we can provide more coverage because maybe someone thinks they’re covered but aren’t necessarily.”

The interest for #vanlife and DIY campers shows no signs of slowing down, and Jacobs points out that RVs are changing in relation to what people are putting in them and attaching to them. “We want to make sure we offer greater coverage so the RVer is 100 percent covered. In addition to the DIY van coverage, two new coverages Progressive rolled out in the last few years are pest damage and roof protection, areas that historically did not have coverage and now have added value for our customers.”